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Germany

Child murderer sues police over torture threat

A convicted child murderer has appeared in court to seek damages over a police threat to torture him. Magnus Gäfgen also claims he was beaten as officers tried to trace the whereabouts of his kidnapped victim.

Magnus Gäfgen

Gäfgen complained of police mistreatment

Child murderer Magnus Gäfgen reiterated his allegations of mistreatment against police in the German state of Hesse on the opening day of his court case to seek compensation on Thursday.

The 35-year-old claimed he was beaten and threatened with torture as police tried to find out where he was holding his 11-year-old victim, Jakob von Metzler, the son of a Frankfurt banker. The police did not know at the time that the kidnapped boy was already dead.

Gäfgen, a former law student, told the court in Frankfurt that he had been told that a torture specialist was on the way in a helicopter to attend the interrogation. Former law student Gäfgen said he was told that the specialist was trained to "inflict more pain on me than I had ever experienced."

A photo of Jakob von Metzler above a floral tribute

Police had hoped to save Gäfgen's victim, Jakob von Metzler

Gäfgen, who is seeking at least 10,000 euros (14,000 dollars) in damages and compensation, also claimed that an officer threatened to have him raped by fellow prisoners.

He told the court that he had felt "helplessness and fear" during the interrogation, and had eventually led the police to the body. Gäfgen is serving a life sentence for the murder in 2002.

Strategy to pressure suspect

The court also heard evidence from former Frankfurt deputy police chief Wolfgang Daschner, who confirmed that a strategy to pressure Gäfgen to talk had been endorsed by a contact in the state interior ministry.

Wolfgang Daschner, former Frankfurt deputy police chief

Daschner revealed the name of his contact within the interior ministry to the court

Daschner said he had spoken to former State Investigation Bureau (LKA) chief Norbert Nedela, who had told him to "show the instruments" to the suspect. Nedela was dismissed from his post last year following criticism of his management style.

Also appearing as a witness, interrogating officer Ortwin E. denied beating Gäfgen but conceded that he had told Gäfgen about the specialist - without making a threat - in the hope that the victim could be traced. "We hoped that Jakob was still alive," said E. He denied that Gäfgen had been threatened with rape.

Previous Strasbourg verdict

Gäfgen managed a partial victory in a previous trial at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in June 2010. The court upheld his claim that threats of physical violence by the German police had been in breach of his human rights.

Gäfgen's attempt to seek retrial however, was dismissed. The court ruled that he did not receive an unfair trial as none of the evidence obtained under the threat of torture was used. Daschner and Ortwin E. were fined and dismissed from their posts.

Author: Richard Connor (AP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Michael Lawton

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